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The effects of group dynamics on learning in virtual world environments

Falconer, Liz; Gil Ortega, Mari Carmen


Liz Falconer


The MA Education in Virtual Worlds is an entirely online programme that facilitates the study of virtual world environments as places where learning can
take place. The synchronous tutorials, workshops and seminar sessions all take place in the virtual world Second Life and have a particular emphasis on experiential and situated learning. Due to its distance learning format and
accessible nature, students take part in the programme from countries all over the world. They meet regularly every week in the virtual world, and those meetings take place through the personae of their avatars. The first year of the programme (Sep 2012-May 2013) was a pilot run with 7 students taking part from the UK, New Zealand and Greece. This first year run was characterised by rapid gelling as
a group and enthusiasm, but they also displayed insecurity, both in relation to the online environment if they were “newbies”, or in relation to the level of study if
Masters level study was new to them. They demonstrated little or no sense of competition between cohort members. Their assessment outcomes were excellent
and they demonstrated much creativity in their approach to learning. The current run (Sep 2013-May 2014) has a larger recruitment of 20 students, resident in the UK, Argentina, USA, Canada, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Early indicators of the current first year group are that the levels of enthusiasm are very similar, but some of the early adjectives that characterise this cohort include insecure, committed,curious and competitive. This paper discusses the ongoing findings of an observational and evaluative study of the nature of the group dynamics amongst cohorts on the programme, and the effects these dynamics may have upon learning.
Key Words: Group dynamics, learning, forming, storming, norming, performing.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Start Date Mar 22, 2014
Publication Date Mar 22, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Falconer, L., & Gil Ortega, M. C. (2014, March). The effects of group dynamics on learning in virtual world environments. Paper presented at 4th Global Conference on Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds
Keywords group dynamics, learning, virtual worlds, forming, storming, norming, performing
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Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 4th Global Conference on Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds